"The Ghosts of Edendale is one of my richest and most detailed scores".
Conducted by Phil
August 2nd, 2004
Vincent Gillioz is perhaps only
just starting to make a name for himself but you can be sure that he will
be around for a long long time.
With scores for many recent horror movies under his
belt and the fantastic Christopher Young for a mentor he can't really go
I chatted to Vinny about his upcoming projects which
include scoring duties on 'The Ghosts of Edendale'.
When did you first become
interested in music?
I started playing the guitar at 14; I used to play in metal bands.
What do you
The guitar and the piano
Were you self taught or did
you take lessons?
from 14 to 17 I took private instructions, then self-taught, and at 23 I
did a dual degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston(USA) in
Performance(guitar) and Film Scoring, where I graduated in the highest
honors, afterwards I went back to Switzerland to the Conservatory studying
Composition and Orchestration, where I graduated again in the highest
What about education, did you
take music at school?
In high school you could take music as an option, what I did, it was a
boring 2 hour per week class about history of music mostly.
When did you realize that you
could make music your career?
When I realized that I didn't have the capacity to do anything else!:-)
More seriously, since I was in high school I wanted to do that. But there
is no real professional structure in Switzerland, the mentality and the
environment is not pushing towards any arts as a career. So I tried to
study something else to make a living and make music on the side. But it
was very frustrating; you never have enough time to make music seriously.
So I decided to take the chance, I worked 3 years full time taking any
small temporary jobs, saved money and went to Berklee College of music in
Boston. From that time, things have unrolled pretty well. Slowly, step
by step but eventually I have been able to make a living out of it.
Did anyone try to put you off?
I know that I was never encouraged when studying music.
I had a "loss" of enjoyment of music at a certain time, well, I still
enjoyed it but didn't feel the same strong emotion for a precise genre,
and I liked everything more or less. It lasted a few years.
No one encourages anybody for any art. I had the same
problem as you, in Switzerland, people smile at you if you say you want to
be a musician, and they think you're dreaming about something you can't
be. I'm wondering why they think that way. There is no reason you can't
be a musician, you have 2 arms, 2 legs, a brain, etc., no differences with
any other musicians. Those people thinking that way are followers, they
lack imagination, and they don't dream anymore. Why ask ignorant people
about something they don't know about? When someone doesn't know about
something he/she will answer with the stereotypes. And the stereotype of
the artist is to be starving.
I agree the education system is terrible, in most
schools the saying "Those who can't, teach!" is very true. And I have
been myself a teacher for the public department of Geneva, so I know what
I'm saying:-)! Very good money though!:-)
I'm not a reference, and I've been very privileged,
since I was born in a wealthy country, that allowed me to save money to
pay for my studies. But I think that what's important is to choose
something you really love, since you love it, you'll be in the "milieu",
you'll read about it, constantly think about it, the networking process
will be very natural, so you'll know/find more and more the opportunities
that exist to make a living out of it. As Chris Young says about film
scoring, composing is only the 10th thing you need to know!!! I think
he's right, the business side, marketing, networking, etc. is crucial.
As far as music, don't worry about remembering all
those theories... Just listen to a piece you love, and then try to
imitate it. That's the oldest and best way to understand what is
How did you go about getting
I'm still unnoticed. You have to market yourself diligently, send your CD
everywhere. Network, call, make contest, and try to be as present as
Vincent: "Slowly, step by step but eventually I have been able to make a living out of it".
Your first fully fledged
horror score was for 'The Campushouse.com'. How did you get involved in
the project and what was it like to work on?
Actually my first real total horror score was for Stefan Avalos' The
Ghosts of Edendale. He put an ad on the internet, and then auditioned 7
composers on a scene of the movie. I'm really lucky and happy he chose
It was great working with Stefan Avalos, because he's a
musician himself, and because he's a talented hard worker. He's trying to
do the best movie as possible, so you know that you're working on a
project that is worth every drop of your sweat. And he has got the result
that comes with it; The Ghosts of Edendale won the Silverlake festival
2003 and has just been picked up by Warner Home Video to be released on
How long did it take you to
write the score?
It's hard to say because we did it in 2 "sessions", and also because I was
working on other projects in between and also had to interrupt the writing
because I had been picked up for the Sundance Composers Lab at that
Were you and Stefan pleased
with the result?
I'm very pleased with the result. The Ghosts of Edendale is one of my
richest and most detailed scores, going from functional harmony and
traditional orchestration, to aleatoric writing and Webern-like
orchestration; and the instrumentation was not less varied, writing for a
full orchestra, electronics, acoustic guitar, harmonica, and prepared
How does the process work? Do
you see some footage and then start to write?
I wrote to picture, even though the movie was not locked yet. The
director and I decide where we need music, and what we want to convey.
Then, I like to work chronologically, so that the music follows the
development of the story.
How do you work? Do you come
up with a theme first and then build on that to create the rest of your
It depends on the movie actually. If I work with themes, I like to use
less and less different themes, but it really depends what the concept of
the movie is. Sometimes there are no specific themes, just an atmosphere
that need to be created. Sometimes there is a reminiscent
"color"(instrumentation) for a character, but not a specific melody. It's
really fun to find a concept for a movie.
You then went on to score
'Scarecrow'. The first time I saw the film I immediately noticed that the
score reminded me of the excellent Puppet Master theme. Was this purely
coincidence or is that the kind of sound Emmanuel Itier and York
Entertainment were after?
Actually I've never seen or even talked about the Puppet Master. Danny
Elfman's brother and mother are in the movie, so Emmanuel Itier wanted
Danny to write the main title for it, Emmanuel actually temped the opening
with Edward Scissorhands, but Danny Elfman couldn't do it, so I wrote the
You worked on 5 scores the
same year as 'Scarecrow' which covered a wide range of genres and musical
styles before scoring 'Scarecrow Slayer'. Did you consciously aim to
create a different sound or did you try to keep it similar to the first?
It sounds very Tim Burton/ Danny Elfman to me.
Exactly, Emmanuel wanted that kind of sound, he loves Elfman.
Who would you say are your
favourite composers and influences?
My favorite composers are Stravinsky, Goldenthal, Ligeti, Corigliano,
Mussorgsky, Chris Young, Hosokawa, Prokofiev, Penderecki, Beltrami,
Elfman, and of course the 2 Gods of film scoring that Williams and
I notice that Christopher
Young tipped you for the top. He is one of my favourite composers along
with Don Davis and John Carpenter, what was it like for you to have him
like your work?
Hey great, I love Don Davis too, I actually arranged the String Tribute to
Matrix album. Chris Young is not only an amazing composer, but also a
true generous person. I have been a fan of his music from his very early
scores, so you can imagine how excited I was when he just talked to me,
then invited me in his studio, and finally liked my music, I couldn't
believe it!!! Chris has been very helpful, always asking what he could do
to help me out. And he's helping out many young composers, he's also
teaching a film scoring class at USC, and is president of the Film Music
Society. He is the most devoted person I have ever seen to film
"I love the Hellraiser theme!"
What is your favourite Chris
I love the Hellraiser theme! Species is great, Bless the Child too.
What kinds of music do you
Currently mostly soundtracks and classical, sometimes some Jazz (like
Coltrane and Coleman) and some rock too (like Red Hot Chili Peppers and
What is your favourite horror
What is your favorite style of
Film music, and 20th (21st?:-) century classical music.
Can you tell us a little about
your upcoming projects including Frost, Headhunter and Chupacabra, and
what we should expect to hear when we see the finished
Frost is very exciting because it's a Giallo movie of today, and the
director, Dominik Alber, wants me to come up with a Giallo sound of today.
So it's very refreshing, I'm using a full orchestra blended with distorted
guitars and a mezzo-soprano (the opera singer Mashal Arman).
Headhunter is great too, because we're going for an orchestra with some
processed custom sounds, and suddenly it switches to total sound texture
(electronics). It's a very cold and gloomy sound.
Chupacabra (working title) is also very interesting to work on, because
the director wants to stay away from the traditional
instrumentation/clichťs one can find in horror movies. He wants me to
solely use the instrumentation you find in traditional Mexican music, such
as acoustic guitars, trumpets, double bass, and all kind of Latin
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."